Constraints on the seismic properties of the middle and lower continental crust
G. E. Lloyd, R. W. H. Butler, M. Casey, D. J. Tatham, D. Mainprice, 2011. "Constraints on the seismic properties of the middle and lower continental crust", Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology and Tectonics: Microstructures, Mechanics and Anisotropy, David J. Prior, Ernest H. Rutter, Daniel J. Tatham
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For the past two decades geodetic measurements have quantified surface displacement fields for the continents, illustrating a general complexity. However, the linkage of geodetically defined displacements in the continents to mantle flow and plate tectonics demands understanding of ductile deformations in the middle and lower continental crust. Advances in seismic anisotropy studies are beginning to allow such work, especially in the Himalaya and Tibet, using passive seismological experiments (e.g. teleseismic receiver functions and records from local earthquakes). Although there is general agreement that measured seismic anisotropy in the middle and lower crust reflects bulk mineral alignment (i.e. crystallographic preferred orientation, CPO), there is a need to calibrate the seismic response to deformation structures and their kinematics. Here, we take on this challenge by deducing the seismic properties of typical mid- and lower-crustal rocks that have experienced ductile deformation through quantitative measures of CPO in samples from appropriate outcrops. The effective database of CPO and hence seismic properties can be expanded by a modelling approach that utilizes ‘rock recipes’ derived from the as-measured individual mineral CPOs combined in varying modal proportions. In addition, different deformation fabrics may be diagnostic of specific deformation kinematics that can serve to constrain interpretations of seismic anisotropy data from the continental crust. Thus, the use of ‘fabric recipes’ based on subsets of individual rock fabric CPO allows the effect of different fabrics (e.g. foliations) to be investigated and interpreted from their seismic response. A key issue is the possible discrimination between continental crustal deformation models with strongly localized simple-shear (ductile fault) fabrics from more distributed (‘pure-shear’) crustal flow. The results of our combined rock and fabric-recipe modelling suggest that the seismic properties of the middle and lower crust depend on deformation state and orientation as well as composition, while reliable interpretation of seismic survey data should incorporate as many seismic properties as possible.
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This collection of papers presents recent advances in the study of deformation mechanisms and rheology and their applications to tectonics. Many of the contributions exploit new petrofabric techniques, particularly electron backscatter diffraction, to help understand evolution of rock microstructure and mechanical properties. Papers in the first section (lattice preferred orientations and anisotropy) show a growing emphasis on the determination of elastic properties from petrofabrics, from which acoustic properties can be computed for comparison with in-situ seismic measurements. Such research will underpin geodynamic interpretation of large-scale active tectonics. Contributions in the second section (microstructures, mechanisms and rheology) study the relations between microstructural evolution during deformation and mechanical properties. Many of the papers explore how different mechanisms compete and interact to control the evolution of grain size and petrofabrics. Contributors make use of combinations of laboratory experiments, field studies and computational methods, and several relate microstructural and mechanical evolution to large-scale tectonic processes observed in nature.